Clive's Loch Fyne weekend
by Ralph Bradley
On Fri 6 June I travelled with Andy Mac to Otter Ferry, the start point of Clive's trip. I'd seen Loch Fyne from the other side (A83) but had never been down the B8000 - a beautiful road. We arrived at 6pm and sat outside the pub enjoying a nice meal and a couple of pints. Then Clive and Bryan arrived, and we had a few more pints. We camped near the water, just up from the pub. As I recall, I was too inebriated to put my tent up; instead I just shone my torch on it while Andy and co. did it for me (I've got a cheek !)
Next morning I felt dire (what you get for trying to keep up with the big boys). My colleagues were very kind - made me some tea and a bacon roll - probably because I told them I thought I was going to die ! Brett and Kate arrived (fortunately I'd recovered a little by then) so we packed our boats and set off south down Loch Fyne. It was cloudy but not raining, and we paddled for a good 2 hours before stopping at a beach for a bite to eat.
Soon the rain started, and the more we paddled, the heavier it got. Visibility became poorer due to the rain so we decided to look for a suitable camp spot. At 3.30pm we landed above a small beach, and proceeded to put up our tents...in torrential rain ! It was so heavy, we didn't see each other for a couple of hours, but by early evening it had eased off, and we congregated outside having a good laugh at Bryan in his full-length mosquito net, looking like a terrorist. Then Andy produced an axe and a saw, so we got a fire going on the beach. We spent a great evening round the fire with drinks, nibbles...and some midges (though I've encountered them a lot worse than this).
Next morning...and it's dry and sunny - great ! We're having breakfast when suddenly two young deer bolt out of a wood, one chasing the other. The one being chased swims right across the bay in panic. A great sight (sorry I got a bit over-excited).
We paddled out into open water and made an on-the-spot decision to head across the Loch to Tarbert. It was a great paddle across, with swell, and as we approached the harbour the sun really came out. We hit the cafe and sat on the quayside eating, drinking and enjoying the sunshine.
Time to paddle back. Just round the corner from Tarbert we re-grouped in a sheltered bay. Except it wasn't that sheltered - the wind was horrendous, pushing us back onto the rocky beach. Time to grit our teeth and head back across Loch Fyne to the eastern side. It was when Clive said "Don't worry, if anyone does come out of their boat..." that I got a bit worried ! We set off - I was supposed to be in front but wasn't too keen on this idea: the swell and wind were one thing, but I like to see a few other boats around me. Once safely across, I felt elated - and I'm sure I wasn't the only one. We got out for a break, and sat in the sun for a while - perfect.
Then the last leg. We had about 8km left to paddle, back to Otter Ferry. This was really enjoyable as the wind was in our favour and it was great fun surfing the waves. We reached the cars at about 5pm - some of us paddled round in circles saying "I wish we could do it again !" Proof of how enjoyable it had been. We loaded the boats and headed for home.
In his email prior to the trip, Clive said : "not exactly open sea crossings...". I think you were being modest Clive - to me, Sunday's paddle WAS open sea crossings. Thanks to a great bunch of paddlers for your company, and especially to Clive for a great trip.
Article copyright © Ralph Bradley 2014